I have, yet again, been drawn into a futile debate with my mother in regards to religion. It started in a fairly tame manner; we were making points and conceding points. I was happy that she admitted she often had a knee-jerk reaction to certain shows on TV, such as NatGeo or Discovery, and that she usually closes herself off from information because she has a preconceived idea about certain topics.
Today, NatGeo had a show on about glaciers. It was pretty fascinating and explained things in such a way that I thought would make the information easier to digest. It had a neutral tone and was mostly presenting facts in a way that wouldn't necessarily offend the religious (until they started talking about prehistoric man). It explained how the canyons from the north (of the U.S.) down to the west coast were formed: there was a sort of glacial damn holding back the waters of the Great Lakes and, once they melted to a certain point, finally burst open and the waters came rushing out of the lakes, thereby decimating everything in its path. Of course, now the canyons are dry and arid, but you can see how the water shaped the land by observing the giant ripple marks in the earth and the areas where whirlpools drilled into the rock.
The documentary when on to explain how glaciers affect the earth's climate (for example, they reflect heat back into space) and how they slowly drift and shape the earth. Via satellite images, their movements are tracked and show that, even though they're frozen and seemingly solid, they move like liquid and spread out in ripples and flow downward through valleys, etc. With the same satellite views, it was shown that glaciers have receded 6 miles since 1997 in Greenland, and 9 miles in another area. Also, a time-lapse camera revealed how quickly the ice was moving over a three-month period. The faster the ice moves, the quicker it melts. And, as we all know, once the glaciers melt, the sea level will rise, among other things.
It all seemed pretty straightforward to me, and they didn't seem to be pushing any agenda beyond awareness. My mother just scoffed at the television, after not really paying attention, and said, "There are CHRISTIAN scientists who say otherwise!" We didn't attempt to discuss anything then, but got into it a little later.
Ya know, we got into the predictable arguments about the inconsistent character of God, the contradictions in the Bible (that, apparently, are not really contradictions), the alleged PROOF of Creation, the fact that Moses could've been high when he spoke to the Burning Bush, the fact that (to her surprise) I wouldn't believe myself if I DID see something out of the ordinary, like a UFO... which I did see when I was like 8, but still think it wasn't real... and the definition of Light. [etc...] Two points really stand out in my mind: the latter, which is the definition of light, and the fact that she couldn't tell me what the difference between angels and fairies is.
The light issue is a pretty significant issue in my mind. The Bible claims God created light first... it also says He IS light (He created Himself?). If we're being metaphorical, then comparing God to light is fine. But. He can't ACTUALLY be light... for a lot of reasons, one of them being that the Bible says He created it. The Bible makes a pretty clear statement that light hasn't always been around, right? Sooo... yeah. I think we should at least concede that God is not ACTUALLY light.
But then I went on to explain that stars are constantly being formed and destroyed, and that scientists can observe this because they can see them in their various stages. It takes millions of years (or more) for this process to take place, and each star is at a completely different stage... suggesting they weren't all "placed" in the cosmos at one point in history. The Bible says he put each one in its place; it's sort of like the idea that every animal that ever existed STILL exists now and there are no new creatures. Creationists have a problem with evolution because it goes against the Bible which says we were all created in seven days... not over a period of time.
So, the star issue makes things pretty clear to me: if there are stars being created NOW which don't require some deity to speak them into existence, and it takes a looong time for them to form (unaided), there's no reason to think they ever needed an initial "In the beginning". Not to mention the fact that there is NO example of light without a source. My mother seems to think light IS a source, but this is not so (duh). Light comes from fire, which comes from heat, fuel and oxygen. Is God also oxygen? Or, if He created this process, why not say He combined certain elements to create light... as opposed to suggesting He just said, "Let there be light!" That might've been okay if the Bible didn't then proceed by saying "and then He created the Sun, Moon and Stars"... after light. Hmmm...
Whatever. We went off on some other rabbit trail and I never got to really elaborate on the IMPOSSIBILITY of light before a source, and the impracticality of suggesting God IS light. In one final attempt to make some headway, or to breech her mind somehow, I demanded that she tell me the difference between angels and fairies (really erratic conversation, right?). I always compare God/Jesus/The Bible to Zeus/Fairies/Greek Myths (among others)... and that's a pretty common tactic amongst us Atheists. I dunno about everyone else, but I do it because I'm trying to get my opponent to understand how absurd I feel religion is! It's not exactly meant to be a jab or an insult; I just want them to freakin' get that there's NO difference between fairy tales and Judeo-Christianity!
So, I'm like... insisting she give me a good reason to accept one over the other, and this is where she starts saying she's tired of talking. She says she doesn't know and that she's never thought of it before, so she can't answer at the moment. But, seriously, does anyone really need time to ponder this question? She tried to say, "Fairies are from someone's imagination" and I said I could say the same about angels, and please give me a real answer. Then she said, "Angels are from Heaven." Again, I refused to accept it as a real answer. And then, exasperated, she says "Ask him!" when my step dad walked in the room. He just walked past and didn't acknowledge the question. I don't blame him. He'd been avoiding the living room for the past hour or so.
And so, I'm left dangling with a question I feel should hold some merit, however absurd it seems. I demand a real answer to why I should accept angels over fairies, and consider one plausible while the other one I hold to be completely ridiculous.
Annnd... that's MY rant. I'm going to bed.